PINELLAS PARK — A 72-year-old man strangled his wife Thursday night after she told him he needed to return to a mental hospital, police said.
Richard E. Wilhelm called 911 at 11:45 p.m. and told an operator he killed his wife, Carole, then hung up.
Pinellas Park Police officers arrived at his home in the 82000 block of Fourth Avenue, inside the Golden Gate Mobile Home Park, moments later and found Wilhelm outside.
In an argument, his 69-year-old wife told Wilhelm he should return to a mental facility. That's when Wilhelm grabbed an electrical cord and strangled her in the bathroom of their mobile home, said police spokesman Capt. Sanfield Forseth.
"He said he was never going back to a mental facility again," Forseth said.
The Wilhelms were married for 52 years.
Wilhelm has a history of mental illness. In 2008, Wilhelm was taken to a mental facility after he attempted suicide by overdosing on sleeping pills.
His son and daughter told police he had recently changed his medications and that Carole told them their father "had been getting more and more difficult to live with and to manage," Forseth said. They declined to comment.
Wilhelm was charged with first degree murder. He was booked into the Pinellas County jail, where he remained Friday without bail.
On Friday morning, the street was quiet. Paul Carter, 68, the Wilhelms' next-door neighbor, was outside watering some plants.
He didn't hear any noises from the Wilhelms' mobile home Thursday night. But Carter woke up around 4 a.m. and found crime scene tape in front of his home and around the block. He turned on the TV and heard the news about what had taken place next door.
"I'm very shocked that this happened in a community like this," he said. The mobile home park is home to many retirees who only reside there half of the year.
News researcher Carolyn Edds contributed to this report.